UK

Jeremy Hunt Called 'A Liar And Manipulator' By Junior Doctor Rachel Clarke During Live BBC Interview

08/02/2016 09:06 GMT | Updated 08/02/2016 13:59 GMT

A junior doctor accused Jeremy Hunt of "spin", "manipulation" and "lies" in a damning interview discussing the ongoing battle between the government and those on the frontline of the NHS.

SEE ALSO: Doctors Demand Hunt Works At Weekends Too

Rachel Clarke was talking in response to comments the Health Secretary made on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning in which he blamed the BMA for strike action.

Hunt was left looking decidedly uncomfortable when Andrew Marr read him a selection of remarks from junior doctors on the front line of the NHS.

Quoting one, Marr said: "The profession is at absolute breaking point. I see doctors in tears because they are so despairing over what the future holds. Jeremy Hunt has done this. He's driving away a whole generation of doctors."

The health secretary deflected the criticism by blaming the British Medical Association, calling them "irresponsible" for "spreading misinformation".

Hunt answered: "It's incredibly disappointing, the totally irresponsible way the BMA has behaved in refusing to sit down and talk about how we can improve patient care and spreading misinformation."

He added: "One of the reasons for that anger is they were told by the BMA their pay was going to be cut, it isn't. They were told they were going to have to work longer hours, they aren't...

"If you're told by your union that the health secretary wants to do these awful things, of course you're going to feel devalued."

Later on Sunday one of the junior doctors quoted earlier, Rachel Clarke, appeared on BBC News to respond.

She said: "It's extraordinary for me as a frontline junior doctor to hear my health secretary say that. I would like to believe that if her were actually committed to patient safety he would actually take seriously the concerns from the frontline of doctors like me.

"Instead there he seems to have used my concerns to have scored an opportunity to score cheap political points at the expense of the BMA.

"He says he cares about junior doctor morale but I can tell you now that the single biggest problem for my morale, the thing that is making me want to quit my profession at the moment, is not the BMA, what I hear from the union or what I read in the media, it is what he, my health secretary says.

"He spins against us, he manipulates statistics against us and quite frankly he lies."

One of the main areas for disagreement is how doctors are paid for working unsociable hours, particularly on Saturdays.

The government has tried to claim an increase in deaths at weekends is due to lack of staff, which others have disputed, saying there is not the data to support this.

Hunt told Marr: "Health secretaries have these battles but what history judges in the end is, have you done the right thing for patients?"

Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA junior doctor committee chair, said the strike had been "wholly avoidable" and was caused by Hunt's "shambolic mishandling" of the matter.

"[Hunt] risks alienating a generation of junior doctors and undermining the delivery of future patient care, which is why 98% of those junior doctors who voted, supported taking industrial action," he added.

“The BMA has been clear throughout this process that we want to reach a negotiated agreement – no doctor wants to take industrial action, and our door has always been open to talks.

"But the government is putting politics before reason, and their continued threat to impose a contract that junior doctors have roundly rejected leaves us with no option.

“Junior doctors already work around the clock, seven days a week and they do so under their existing contract.

"If the government want more seven-day services then, quite simply, they need more doctors, nurses and diagnostic staff, and the extra investment needed to deliver it."

6 Things To Know About Junior Doctor Contract Changes